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Preliminary Design of a Vortex Pool for

Electrical Generation
S. Wanchat

and R. Suntivarakorn
-

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen 40002, Thailand

This study is the analysis and design of a basin structure which has the ability to form a gravitational vortex
stream. Such a high velocity water vortex stream can possibly be used as an alternative energy resource. In this
study we are interested in the formation of a water vortex stream formed by gravitation, which is a new
technique in the field of hydro power engineering. The advantage of this method for electrical generation is the
capability of producing energy using low heads of 0.7 to 3 meters. It can be applied in a low head mini/micro
hydro power plant. The governing equation is the Navier-Stokes equations. The SIMPLE method was adopted to
solve the discretized equation. The flow fields in the flume under different incoming flow conditions and basin
configurations were numerically simulated using the software ANSYS Fluent. There are 3 case studies to
investigate parameters which affect velocity vector flow field. 1) Water flow in a cylindrical barrel with an outlet
at the center of the bottom 2) Water flow field in a rectangular solid vessel with pre-rotation and outlet at the
bottom 3) Water flow field in cylindrical solid vessel with pre-rotation and outlet at the bottom.


-
Authortowhomcorrespondence
1. INTRODUCTION
A water vortex stream is a common phenomenon and is one
kind of free surface flow. There are two homogeneous fluids
concerned at the boundary, water and air. A free vortex is always
found at the intake of a hydraulic structure, and it is also a problem
in the field of hydraulic engineering. Engineers try to eliminate free
vortices as much as possible in designing and running hydraulic
devices. In the water industry, almost all is free surface flow. A
slowly varying water surface is found when filling and emptying a
water storage tank, slow turbulent flow is found in flow distribution
channels, and more turbulent flow is found in pump sumps.
Understanding the free surface flow is important for engineering
design and for process performance optimization. For a long
time, dimensional analysis and modeling experiments have been
adopted to research the free surface vortex
1-8
. For example Li et
al.
9
investigated the flow field of a free surface vortex by using the
particle image velocimetry (PIV) technique. Gordon
10
, Redy et al.
11

and Odgard
12,13
proposed formulas to predict the critical
submergence. John et al.
14
and Chen et al.
15
summarized the
velocity field of the free vortex. Zhao et al.
16
carried out numerical
simulations of the free surface water in a barrel with a bottom
central orifice. However, none of these researchers studied the
mechanism of formation and evolution of a free surface vortex and
did not give the reason why the free surface vortex is formed. Li
Hai-feng et al.
17
performed experimental and numerical studies to
investigate the mechanism of formation and evolution of a free
vortex, and found that the Coriolis force is the major factor while
another factor is pre-rotation. Tuan Ta
18
adopted a numerical study
by using the volume of fluid method to investigate free surface
vortex formation in common industrial systems such as ducts and
pumps.
On the other hand, the water vortex technique is applied in many
kinds of engineering applications. In environmental engineering
applications, Nicolae Popescu and Dan Robescu
19
studied the
vortex separation technique which can be used to separate
petroleum residues from water. In hydro engineering applications,
M.J. Khan et al.
20
reviewed the status of hydrokinetic energy
conversion systems and assessed horizontal and vertical axis
turbines for river and tidal applications, and found that the
gravitational water vortex is a new method for mini/micro hydro
power plants which are classified as Neo-Aerodynamics
techniques. The gravitational vortex is a milestone in hydrodynamic
development because in the past we needed energy to aerate
water, but now this technique uses a water aeration process to
produce electrical energy. Energy production from fossil fuel as
human use today is one of the main cause of Earth climate
change. Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the
statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from
decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average
weather conditions or the distribution of events around that
average. Climate change may be limited to a specific region or
may occur across the whole Earth. Therefore human should find
the solutions and policies to protect the Earth from climate change
disasters. For example, the study of H. Paeth and C. Otto
22
, results
may help to optimize mitigation policy by tapping the individual
potential in climate protection. Generating electrical energy from
gravitational water vortex can also be one of alternative energy
resource which clean and green for communities to help the
human safe the world in the near future.
A free vortex stream always occurs at a low head of water. It
accelerates a water stream from slow to high velocity and gives it
high enough kinetic energy to generate electric power. The
efficiency of a gravitational vortex power plant depends on many
factors such as parameters of turbine and vortex pool, vortex pool
design and others. Punit Singh and Franz Nestman
21

experimentally studied and designed the most optimized water
vortex to determine the turbine efficiency. However, now work
has been done on how to design an optimized electric power
source from a water vortex pool, so this is the point of this study. It
can have most useful applications in the field of alternative energy
in the future.
In this study, computation fluid dynamics is used to solve
the solution in flow field. Computation fluid dynamic (CFD) is a
branch of fluid mechanics that uses numerical
methods and algorithms to solve and analyze problems that
involve fluid flows. It can use to solve the problems in many
applications
23-27
. In this study, the governing equation is the Navier
Stokes equations. The finite volume method was employed to
discretize the governing equations, while the SIMPLE method was
adopted to solve the discretized equations. There are 3 case
studies presented in this article. 1) The flow of water in a cylindrical
tank with an orifice tube outlet at the bottom. The objects of this
case study are to investigate the effect of water height and size of
outlet hole on velocity vector flow field. 2) The flow of water in a
rectangular solid vessel with inlet guide and orifice tube outlet at
the bottom. The object of this study is to investigate the effect of
pre-rotation on the velocity vector flow field. 3) The flow of water in
a cylindrical tank with inlet guide and orifice tube outlet at the
bottom. The object of this study is to investigate the effect of
geometry design on velocity vector flow field.


2. Governing Equations
The incompressible Navier-Stokes equations are given as


and the governing equations in the cylindrical coordinate system
are













3. Numerical Analysis
3.1 Case Study 1: Flow in cylindrical tank with an orifice at
the bottom
3.1 .1 Model and Boundary Conditions
The parameters which have an effect on the velocity vector
flow field of a gravitational vortex include the height of water and
the ratio between orifice diameter and tank diameter. In order to
investigate these, the case study 1 was set. The model was a
cylindrical tank with an orifice at the bottom. The orifice was set at
the center on the bottom of the tank, so water flowed out through
the orifice. Model boundary conditions included that the upper
surface of the model was open to the ambient air, there were no
slip conditions at the wall, and the orifice was a pressure outlet. It
would be axisymmetrical when the flow reached a steady state.
The physical model is shown in Fig. 1. The finite volume method
was employed to discretize the governing equations and the
SIMPLE method was adopted to solve the discretized equations.
The flow fields in the flume were numerically simulated using the
software ANSYS Fluent. Diameter of the model was fixed at 2
meters, while height and orifice diameter were varied.







Fig.1. Model and mesh of case study 1


Table 1. The conditions of case study 1 to investigate the effect
of water height on velocity flow field
Condition cal 1 cal 2 cal 3 cal 4 cal 5
Water Height (cm) 20 30 40 50 60
Orifice diameter (cm) 40 40 40 40 40
Elements 5,667 6,628 7,801 8,989 9,532
Nodes 1,334 1,476 1,683 1,902 2,006

V v gradp

1
F
dt
dV
0, divV V + = =
(1)
|
|
.
|

\
|

c
c
+
c
c
+
c
c
+
c
c
=
c
c
+
c
c
+
c
c
2
r
r
V
2
z
r
V
2
2
r
r
V
2
r
r
V
r
1
v
r
p

V
0
2
r
2

V
r
z
V
z
V
r
r
V
r
V
t
r
V
|
|
.
|

\
|

c
c
+
c
c
+
c
c
+
c
c
=
c
c
+
c
c
+
c
c
2
r
z
V
2
z
z
V
2
2
r
z
V
2
r
z
V
r
1
v
r
p

1
r
2

V
z
z
V
z
V
r
z
V
r
V
t
z
V
|
|
.
|

\
|

c
c
+
c
c
+
c
c
+
c
c
=
c
c
+
c
c
+
c
c
2
r

V
2
z

V
2
2
r

V
2
r

V
r
1
v
r
p

1
r
V
0
2
r
r
V

V
z

V
z
V
r

V
r
V
t

V
0
z
z
V
)
r
(rV
r r
1
=
c
c
+
c
c
(2)



Table 2. The conditions of case study 1 to investigate the effect
of orifice diameter on velocity flow field
Condition cal 1 cal 2 cal 3 cal 4
Water Height (cm) 40 40 40 40
Orifice diameter (cm) 20 30 40 50
Elements 9,585 7,801 6,498 5,406
Nodes 2,030 1,683 1,437 1,231

3.1.2 Results and analysis
The tangential velocity component is one of the most
important characteristics of the vortex flow. The tangential velocity
distribution along the radial direction at different sections is shown
in Fig.3, where 20 cm, 30 cm, 40 cm, 50 cm, and 60 cm means the
height of water in the calculation, and lines show the tangential
velocity distribution along the radial direction at each mean height
from the bottom of the model tank. It was found that, from the core
radius of the vortex the tangential velocity increases to a maximum
value and then decreases with increasing radius. The radius
corresponding to the maximum tangential velocity is the core
radius of the vortex. The result is shown in Fig.2
In order to investigate the effect of water height on the
tangential velocity, the model was set up with water height at 60
cm, orifice diameter at 40 cm and tank diameter at 200 cm. Fig. 3
show the tangential velocity distribution at each section away from
the bottom of the model. It found that the tangential velocity
distribution is not difference obviously. At height 10 cm from the
bottom show the lower tangential velocity because the no slip
condition at the bottom wall of the tank.















Fig. 2. The tangential velocity distribution along the radial direction at
different mean heights from the bottom of the model tank

To investigate the effect of orifice on tangential velocity the model
was set up with model height at 60 cm, tank diameter at 200 cm,
and the orifice diameter was varied. Fig. 4 shows the tangential
velocity distribution at different orifice diameters. It found that
tangential velocity in stream line increase with diameter of orifice.


















Fig. 3. Tangential velocity at different depths















Fig. 4. Tangential velocity at different depths

3.2 Case study 2: Flow in solid rectangular tank with
Pre-Rotation
3.2.1 Model and Boundary Conditions
The incoming flow condition is one of the important factors
affecting vortex formation. The flow field in the flume with guided
incoming flow conditions was simulated using the commercial
software ANSYS Fluent. The pre-rotation was generated by setting
a plate at the section of the incoming flow. Figure 6 shows the
physical model, the computational grid, and the position and
direction of the plate. The flume is 30 cm in height, 50 cm in width
and 150 cm in length. The outlet is set on the bottom of the flume
100 cm away from the inlet and the plate is inclined at 45 to one
side of the flume to generate the clockwise pre-rotation. Orifice
diameter was 15 cm and height 150 cm. The incoming rate of
water flow was 0.002 m/s. The orifice is a pressure outlet. The
model adopted used 21,758 elements and 4,484 nodes to
discretize the system. The Model and mesh is shown in Fig. 5. The
SIMPLE method was adopted to solve the discretized equations.
The flow fields in the flume were numerically simulated using the
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
0.00 0.11 0.22 0.33 0.44 0.56 0.67 0.78 0.89 1.00
v

(
c
m
/
s
)
r (m)
20 cm
30 cm
40 cm
50 cm
60 cm
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
0.00 0.11 0.22 0.33 0.44 0.56 0.67 0.78 0.89 1.00
v

(
c
m
/
s
)
r (m)
10 cm
20 cm
30 cm
40 cm
50 cm
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
0.00 0.11 0.22 0.33 0.44 0.56 0.67 0.78 0.89 1.00
v

(
c
m
/
s
)
r (m)
orifice diameter 20 cm
orifice diameter 30 cm
orifice diameter 40 cm
orifice diameter 50 cm
software ANSYS Fluent.








Fig. 5. Model and mesh of case study 2

3.2.2 Results and analysis
Fig. 6 shows the simulation results of case study 2. The
stream lines show flow direction. They show that a vortex was
formed. The computation results agree with Li Hai-feng et al.
17
as
shown in Fig. 7. However, the free vortex configuration was not
well formed because the basin geometry was not suitable to
control the free vortex line.










(a)










(b)
Fig. 6. (a) horizontal and (b) vertical stream lines of flow direction in
case study 2




















(a)











(b)
Fig. 7. Study results in the same model setting run as in Li Hai-feng et
al. [17] (a) Vector Field at the section 20 cm away from the bottom of
the basin (simulation) (b) Vortex configuration (experimental)

3.3 Case study 3: Flow in cylindrical tank with Pre-Rotation
3.3.1 Model and Boundary Conditions
In order to investigate the effect of basin configuration on the
velocity vector flow field, the model in case study 3 was set. Fig. 8
shows the configuration of the model in case study 3. The model
was a cylindrical tank with an orifice at the bottom center. The
incoming flow was guided by a plate. The cylinder tank size was
1m in diameter and 1m in height, and the orifice had diameter
20cm and was 20cm long. The upper surface was set open to the
ambient air. There were no slip conditions at the wall and there
was pressure outlet at the orifice. The incoming velocity was set at
1m/s.









Fig. 8. Model and mesh in case study 3


3.3.2 Results and analysis
The simulation results in Fig. 9 show that the velocity flow
field was very symmetrical and beautiful. The velocity vector flow
field was far better than in case study 2. The velocity distribution
was rather uniform. Therefore this geometry is very interesting to
research to find the optimal vortex pool shape to use in a
gravitational vortex power plant in the future.











(a)










(b)

Fig. 9. (a) horizontal and (b) vertical stream lines of flow direction
in case study

4. Conclusions
This study indicates the important parameters which can
determine the water free vortex kinetic energy and vortex
configuration and they include the height of water, the orifice
diameter, conditions at the inlet and the basin configuration. It
was found that a cylindrical tank with an orifice at the bottom
center with the incoming flow guided by a plate is the most
suitable configuration to create the kinetic energy water vortex.
Therefore future study will investigate the optimization of the
vortex pool of this geometry to determine the specifications of a
gravitational water vortex pool prototype.

Acknowledgments: This study acknowledges the support
from Center for Alternative Energy Research and Development,
Khon Kaen University.

References and Notes
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